Crowdsourcing has become popular of late, with certain niches. For example, Joel Spolsky's Stack Exchange recently received US$ 12 million in VC funding for what is essentially a question-and-answer site among software engineers. The same concept will apply with organizations. Because organizations will always have questions -- and answers -- Interact Intranet is releasing a crowdsourcing engine meant for intranets.

Finding the Right Answers

Interact Answers is somewhat a hybrid of an FAQ, a social network and a forum. The system works by first attempting to automate the question-and-answer process. When an individual asks a question, the system will first attempt to look for an existing solution. If none is available, Interact Answers will then match the question with the individual or individuals most capable of answering, and these colleagues will be alerted. The experts can then respond to the inquiry, and these will then be viewable by the public, and also stored on the system for future use.

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Interact says this system will help minimize the use of email messages for collaboration, which are often difficult to track. With email, people with questions might not get the answers from the best resource. Interact product manager Simon Dance stresses the ease with which the system can look for information from a growing and evolving store of knowledge.

What makes this feature unique is that Interact Answers intelligently suggests solutions to the questions asked, using the information already contained within the intranet. It then goes one step further by recommending an expert within the company it believes can help you with that answer.

Part of the Bigger Intranet Picture

Interact Answers is part of the Interact Intranet suite of intranet applications. These include tools for managing files, resources, internal webpages, contacts, staff profiles, multimedia, collaboration, analytics and the like. According to Interact Internet, the Interact Answers system is available in the core system of Interact Intranet version 4.8.

Increased Productivity with Collaboration

The role of the so-called Social Intranet comes into importance when you consider how expensive being unproductive can be. Unproductive employees are said to cost businesses $14,000 each employee annually. While social collaboration tools can sometimes be deemed as "useless chit-chat," social collaboration can also help unlock knowledge from information silos, so that it is accessible to those who need it. In turn, this exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences can help with business decision-making.

The key to succeeding with a system like Interact Answers is being able to build a repository of relevant knowledge from past inquiries, and using this to address present and future needs. This brings not only a social aspect, but also a historical aspect to social collaboration.